”Avatars have sparked the beginnings of a completely digital fashion industry”

On the next step for our sense of self
March 24, 2021

Dad, do you think I should wear this cap?!”

My daughter was calling on me from her bedroom while I was doing the dishes in our country house. The question surprised me, as she usually doesn’t care about her outfits when we are in the archipelago. And we weren’t supposed to go anywhere.  

”What do you think dad?!”

I interrupted my chores and walked into her bedroom, only to find her standing there, capless, holding up her phone. Instead of a physical outfit, she displayed a newly crafted getup on her Roblox character that looked eerily similar to Margot Robbie’s version of Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad movies. But that wasn’t what startled me. It’s how she referred to the girl on the screen. 

”Should I wear this?”

She didn’t separate herself from her avatar. 

Listeners to the Scandinavain MIND podcast know that I regularly use my 10-year-old daughter’s Roblox consumption as a point of reference for the future of digital fashion. What I haven’t reflected upon — until now — is the implications it will have on her sense of self. I will come back to that. 

The notion of digital avatars has sparked the beginnings of a completely digital fashion industry. The rise of so-called direct-to-avatar fashion brands (D2A) have become a thing. According to Kerry Murphy, founder of D2A brand The Fabricant, the market will be enormous. Talking to Mission Mag, he says that the potential target group of ”Digi-Sapiens” will ”comprise of around 3.5 billion individuals globally, with more than 55% of the total spending power”. 

This unlocks a huge potential for designers everywhere. As with many new technologies, it’s not the legacy players that will reap the first rewards. Just like the first breakthrough NFT artist was the digital artist Beeple, the first direct-to-avatar fashion brands are ”avatar native”. 

”As people’s lives blend more into the metaverse, they will have a better understanding of what the metaverse can do for them”, writes Cathy Hackl in Forbes Magazine. ”That understanding will lead to demand for fashion that keeps up with digital identities and even digital people.”

This relates to one of my aha-moments during our latest round table podcast about NFTs. Emma Raventos, head of design at Warpin Media, suggested that blockchain technology could enable consumers to port their digital garments from one platform to another. In the future, my daughter will be able to buy an outfit in Roblox, transfer it into Fortnite, and wear it as an AR skin during a Zoom call. That’s D2A for you!

But going back to the existential aspect. In the latest episode of the Exponential Wisdom podcast, author Peter Diamandis talked about the current state of the phenomenon. Companies like LifeKind and HourOne are working hard to bridge the uncanny valley, meaning they will soon be able to create digital versions of people that are indistinguishable from the original human. He also noted that, just like super coach Tony Robbins, he is working in a digital version of himself to be used in virtual lectures. 

In the end of the episode he suggested that a future business idea would be to record the facial expressions and voice patterns of our loved ones, in order to have conversations with them after they pass away. 

Fancy a Zoom call to the other side? 

Suddenly, my daughters Harley Quinn-avatar seemed completely innocent.